…As Agents Hoot At Him Over UNIPASS Failure

Trade Minister Alan Kyeremanten and his deputy, Carlos Ahenkora, were rushed into their vehicles and whisked out of the Tema Ports yesterday after they were unable to explain to frustrated importers why the newly introduced Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS single window platform failed again and caused a disruption in trade facilitation and revenue generation.

The frustrated importers and clearing agents were seen hooting loudly at Mr. Kyeremanten and his deputy as well as other top officials of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) at the Tema Ports yesterday at a rather disgraceful incident that was captured by the phone cameras of several people present.

While disregarding the protocols on social distancing, the obviously frustrated agents were heard chanting: “2020, We Go Show Nana”, “Bring Back West Blue, GCNet”, “No GCNet, No UNIPASS”, “Bawumia Come Back And Save The Ports”,  among other strong-worded statements we would rather not repeat in clod print.

At the initial stages, Alan Kyeremanten and his top officials were seen attempting to address the clearing agents whose business had been put on hold through no fault of theirs.

The Minister and his team gave up with they realized the agents would simply not tone down their booing and hooting. It was clear all they wanted was a trade facilitation system that was effective and not this problematic Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS disaster.

Eventually, Mr. Kyeremanten and his team had to leave the scene, perhaps for their own safety or maybe to pacify the protesters who seem to be getting more agitated just by the sight of seeing the Minister and his team who appeared clueless on an immediate solution.

Political Suicide

It is difficult to understand why the Nana Akufo-Addo led government has decided to plunge itself into a completely avoidable chaotic situation with barely six months to general elections simply because the Trade Ministry had signed a problematic trade facilitation contract with Ghana Link.

WEST BLUE, GCNet Shut Down

The two trade facilitation vendors, West Blue and GCNet were instructed to shut down their systems by end of May and allow the Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS to roll out its supposed superior single window system from the first day of June which was yesterday.

This however led to a complete chaos at the ports as the new system simply proved to be problematic. Members of the various freight forwarder associations and individual importers, clearing agents and other stakeholders were simply unable to work with the Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS and they all started to call on government to as a matter of urgency, bring back the GCNet and West Blue systems which has proven to be tried and tested over the years.

President Silent

The President, Nana Akufo-Addo, has been silent, at least as far as the public in concerned, over the entire chaos that has enveloped the attempted takeover of Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS although it has proven to have disrupted trade facilitation and government revenue.

Meanwhile, on the Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS portal, is a curious notice badly written by someone who seems to have a challenge with English language: “if the you fail again, please contact system…”

The chaotic situation at the ports is expected to continue today.